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Full text of "The Letters Of Horace Walpole Vol I"

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Well, but we won't talk politics: shall we talk antiquities ? Gray and I discovered a considerable curiosity lately. In an unfrequented quarter of the Colonna garden lie two immense fragments of marble, formerly part of a frieze to some building; 'tis not known of what. They are of Parian marble: which may give one some idea of the magnificence of the rest of the building ; for these pieces were at the very top. Upon inquiry, we were told they had been measured by an architect, who declared they were larger than any member of St. Peter's. Ttie length of one of the pieces is above sixteen feet. They were formerly sold to a stonecutter for five thousand crowns, but Clement XI would not permit them to be sawed, annulled the bargain, and laid a penalty of twelve thousand crowns upon the family if they parted with them. I think it was a right judged thing. Is it not amazing that so vast a structure should not be known of, or that it should be so entirely destroyed ? But indeed at Eome this is a common surprise ; for, by the remains one sees of the Roman grandeur in their structures, 'tis evident that there must have been more pains taken to destroy those piles than to raise them. They are more demolished than any time or chance could have effected. I am persuaded that in an hundred years IRome will not be worth seeing; 'tis less so now than one would believe. All the public pictures are decayed or decaying; the few ruins cannot last long; and the statues and private collections must be sold, from the great poverty of the families. There are now selling no less than three of the principal collections, the Barberini, the Sacchetti, and Ottoboni: the latter belonged to the cardinal who died in the Conclave 8. I must give you an instance of his generosity, or rather ostentation.
8 ' Doyen, neven d'Alexandre VUU, V6nitien, protecteur de France, fait cardinal & dix-sepfc on dix-tuit ans ;
sans mceurs, sans credit, ddbauchiS, ruin6, amatettr des arts, grand mnsicien.' (De Brosses.)